You have the telltale signs of a hard water problem in your home—an abundance of soap scum in your shower, scaly build-up on your faucets and fixtures, and a cloudy film on your glassware after every run in the dishwasher. You’re trying to find the most cost-effective solution to your hard water problem and wonder if a salt-free water softener could be a solution. Do salt-free water softeners even work? In this month’s blog, the experts at Secondwind Water Systems provide a detailed answer to this common question.
The Truth About Salt-Free Water Softeners
First of all, it’s important to know that salt-free systems are not true water softeners. These systems—also called “water conditioners” or “descalers”—do not remove calcium or magnesium, the elements that cause hard water. Instead, they alter the chemical structure of these minerals, which may help reduce limescale buildup. However, these systems are typically ineffective in places where water sits, including your water heater. And anytime limescale builds up on your home equipment or appliances, it can cause costly damage.
In addition, “salt-free water softeners” do not regenerate to provide fresh capacity the way a true water softener does. This means that their capacity is finite. To get a longer life out of the unit they are often designed to be plumbed into the hot water feed of the house, where the worst scaling occurs. “This means that whatever the unit is doing, it is only doing it to part of your water,” explains Christine Fletcher, president and founder of Secondwind Water Systems.
“In New Hampshire, we frequently use water softeners on only moderately hard water, but we use them because the right water softener can be an excellent way to remove iron and manganese from the water,” Fletcher points out. A “salt free water softener” will not do anything to reduce the staining or annoyance of these dissolved metals.
A Word About Water Contaminants
At Secondwind Water Systems, we have extensive experience providing residential and commercial water treatment solutions throughout NH. And we’ve learned that the level and type of water contaminants can vary significantly by region. “While a saltless water conditioner might work okay in some regions, it may not live up to its claims in other parts of the state,” Fletcher notes.
How Water Softeners Work
When hard water passes through your water softening system, calcium and magnesium ions are exchanged for the sodium (salt) in the resin bed. The calcium and magnesium minerals are left behind so only softened water flows into your home. Once the resin bed is filled up with these mineral ions, it is regenerated (cleaned) so it can continue attracting and collecting hard water minerals.
A Word About Hard Water in NH
If you have a well water system, you very likely have hard water. But even municipal water systems can contain hard water. In fact, according to a U.S. Geological Survey, 85% of homes in the United States have hard water. The best way to treat your hard water problem is with a water softener system, which removes the calcium and magnesium ions contained in it.
Home Water Softener Systems in NH
If you have questions about the quality of your water or suspect you have a hard water problem, contact the water treatment professionals at Secondwind Water Systems. We will gladly provide a free water analysis and suggest a water treatment solution that is best for your home and budget.